Capstone UCAP 395 Project Archives
Reuben Sass (Health and Society) / Spring 2014
"Reifying and Transcending the Circle of Exchange: Tissue Donation, Prociality, and the Aspiratoin of Altruism"
The concept of altruism as a morally optimal form of beneficence, an act of giving which is utterly beyond self-interest, has served as an influential justification for a volunteer-based, incentive-free system for the acquisition of tissue products for medical treatment and research. But I argue that preserving altruism's status as the highest aspiration of beneficent action depends on a definition of the concept which is not empirically assessable. Indeed, taking up Derrida's (1994) concept of the circle of exchange, I contend that even beneficent interaction occurs within a circular dialectic of the stimulus, the action, and the reaction elicited in the donor by the act of giving, so that any psychological and physiological response functions as a give-back which instrumentalizes the other to whom one gives by embedding both within a psychological-affective circle of exchange (which may give rise to patterns of monetary exchange or barter). Through our ethical striving we aspire to attain altruism, a movement which interrupts this circle of exchange, diachronously leading, in a Levinasian sense, to the pureness of my addressing the Other face-to-face in its radical alterity, a condition temporally distinct from the cognitive and emotional mediation of the circle. I further re-frame Levinas's (1981) claim that embodiment is inherent to ethical action, based on Massumi's (2002) model of affect as a property of embodiment which can be expressed independently of the signifying mediation of language and of speech acts. Levinas's equation of the infinitude of the infinite ethical relation with the idea which overflows its ideatum may then be re-conceptualized as the utter subjugation of affect in its overflowing of the limits of signification itself. I further juxtapose altruism with prosociality, a heuristic for formulating duties and organizing behavior, within a given cultural context synchronous with a circle of exchange, in such a way as to promote the recognition of altruism as a shared aspiration. In discussing readings of Levinas by Critchley (1992) and Butler (2005), I outline the problem that temporality poses for the Levinasian project of an other-than-ontological condition (including the charge that I may merely be discussing a multitemporal circle of exchange), when the fabric of cultural space-time is itself derivative of ontology. I then return to the implications for policy. By removing structural impediments to beneficent action within society, including the ignorance and inertia which may result from lack of resources (of information and man power and money), incentives may expand the scope for donors to define the nature of their participation— for the purpose of achieving a more complete responsibility in a collective striving for altruism. By recognizing that such communities of participants must evolve temporally, we can maximize the scope of a prosocial circle of exchange, and try to ensure that although the cultural meanings of prosocial sentiments such as compassion and tolerance and shared vulnerability may change, the aspiration of altruism at which all such sentiments are aimed will not.
Alisha Bansal (Chemistry/Biology) / Spring 2014
Therapeutic music is an emerging field in healthcare. Music has been used to treat ailments as varied as depression and cancer. Independent research has suggested that music may be a beneficial treatment for patients. Why is music helpful in healing humans? Does music help treat the disease itself or does music help the body to better heal? For my capstone, I will be conducting a literature review of the biological foundations of music, with a focus on the relationship between music and emotions in order to determine the rational for the use of music as a therapy for patients. In doing so, I hope to understand the different ways that music can affect a person. I will additionally look at potential confounding variables (such as age, types of illness) that could obscure the effect of music as a rehabilitative technique. For example, certain diseases are more conducive to musical therapy than other diseases. Why is this? Music is also particularly interesting as a medical therapy because it is a nearly universal construct, existing in nearly all human civilizations. This ubiquity has interesting implications for a medical application. Would people of differing cultures and musical backgrounds be more responsive to certain types of music? Thus, the major purpose of this study is to determine the possible mechanisms that can explain why and how music affects the progress of diseases in humans. This purpose would be accomplished by first determining the relationship between humans and music in order to determine the different ways that music can change or modify human behavior or biology. I would then determine how those methods can affect disease pathology in order to determine the effectiveness of music as treatment for disease.
Kathryn Huber (World Literature) / Spring 2014
“Modernism, Medical Ethics and the Narrative: Tracing the Integrity of the Individual in the Context of Medicine”
The dignity and integrity of the individual is cultivated instinctively within our own hearts, and developed culturally within our lives. The value of the self characterizes life in the modern world. Nowhere is the importance of autonomy made clearer than when an individual requires medical treatment. lllness and mortality bring the conflict of the individual and society into focus. Is it more important to value one's own integrity, at the expense of breaking certain cultural expectations about the importance of life? Or should the self be put aside in favor of the policies and conventions of society? These questions can be answered through Modernist literature, particularly in the works of Thomas Mann and Albert Camus that pose existentialist questions in the context of medicine. The notable works that appear at the beginning and end of the Modernist era that deal with issues of life, death, and human dignity in the context of disease and treatment are Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann and The Plague by Albert Camus. Both novels emphasize the development and definition of the self and the conflict that arises when an individual is confronted with mortality. These features dominate each novel, but is established and commented on from two very different perspectives. In the structure and style of these works, there is a particular and important emphasis on the significance of not just "why" choices are made, but also "how" the author arrives at them. Each author finds himself searching for answers that can be found in both medicine's practices and literature's expressivity. This struggle of the individual when his or her health is compromised to malce decisions about individual validity or happiness creates a dilemma when the individual goes against societal or cultural expectations. The context of medicine as used in literature allows for a frame for fundamental ethical questions to be discussed and answered. These narratives— The Plague and Magic Mountain— question the balance between the self and society, and present two very different perspectives on the significance that ethics bear in the decisions made by both provider and receiver of any given medical treatment. Camus and Mann each attempt to solve issues that fall within the existentialist scope by logical means. This struggle is paralleled in the development of modem definitions and expectations of medical ethics. By understanding just the conclusions each author drew in their works, but also how they arrived at them, it may be possible to understand where our own conceptions and expectations arise concerning the power of the individual when weighed against society, particularly in a medical context. The very permanence and impact that these works have had from a contemporary perspective speaks to the relevance of such questions in the current interactions and attitudes towards the relationship between patient and physician. The goal of this project will be to examine these two Modernist works in order to delineate the principles that lay the foundations of our own beliefs and practices in medicine and literature.
Arjun Sharma (Biology) / Spring 2013
In my Sages Capstone paper, I will research and illustrate the symmetry between the rise of both hip-hop music and the AIDS epidemic in America. The focus of the paper will be between the late 1970s until the late 1990s. By taking a long approach to the topic that links together current events with the emergence of both the music and the disease, my research will establish a connection between hip-hop music and AIDS in America in a manner that will expose the links and symbiotic relationship that allowed the music and the public health crisis to feed and grow off of one another. Thus, I will show how important their influence was on one another and also the historical, social, and economic ramifications of this generation. In addition, I will illustrate the immense power that popular social media, in this case hip-hop music, can have on an issue as polarizing as AIDS, and vice versa. Ultimately, I hope to prove the linkages and similarities between these two important subjects and illustrate how important they are to the history of a generation.
Ethan Teare (Communication Science) / Fall 2012
The Common Core State Standards are a new set of K-12 standards that define the knowledge and skills students should possess throughout their elementary and secondary education. Thus far, 45 states have adopting the standards, making what is expected from any K- 12 student in the country, significantly more uniform than in the past. Along with these standards come many challenges in that they are rigorous and demand higher-order thinking. In mathematics, the "English-Language Arts Standards for Technical Subjects" will require students to explain a mathematical process or procedure that they perform in words. Conversely, they will also be expected to translate a mathematical explanation into actual notation. We hypothesize that without any supplementation to instruction on how to translate mathematical processes into text, and vice versa, students will struggle. However, with interventions that model and teach students how to do this, we believe that their struggles can be minimized. We will use three Algebra II classes at Beachwood High School for this research. On Tuesday and Thursday, I will provide a 10 - 15 minute intervention in 1st and 4th periods on how to explain mathematics in words. This will be the cognitive component. Then, in addition to this component, the 4th period group will receive some positive thinking interventions regarding mathematics including goal-setting, positive statements, and visualizations. I also conjecture that getting students thinking they can actually do well in mathematics can cause significant increases in achievement. We would like to explore whether an affective component, paired with a cognitive, can enhance achievement. Lastly, 11th period will be the control period in which I will not provide any interventions. We plan to measure the effectiveness of these interventions by creating test and quiz questions that ask students to translate mathematical work into text and vice versa. We will compare scores in each of the experimental groups to the control group, and also analyze subgroups such a gender, age, etc. Description of Report: It will analyze the assessment data from the experimental groups, comparing it to the data from the control group. We will also analyze the scores of subgroups. The report will be typed, and will pull from this experiment and other published research on Mathematics Literacy to suggest interventions for secondary teachers to get their students ready to meet this aspect of the standards.
Rebecca Berger (Communication Science) / Spring 2011
"Mainstream Education and Cochlear Implants: Information for Parents, Teachers, and Children"
My capstone project centers around the idea of placing a child with a cochlear implant into mainstream education. Many children with cochlear implants today are being mainstreamed with the hopes that they will lead as much of a normal life as possible. When a child with a cochlear implant is mainstreamed it is very important for all parties involved to be well prepared and this is what I would like to concentrate on in my capstone project. I would like to create a packet of information that can be given to parents and teachers to prepare them for what to expect during the mainstreaming experience. I would like to put together information about what to do to prepare the classroom, how to handle the child in the classroom, and what kind of modifications in teaching will need to be made as well as the considerations a parent should make before mainstreaming their child, how to help the child at home so they can succeed, and information about making sure everyone is doing what is best for the child. I would also like to make a program to help prepare other children for what it might be like when the cochlear implant child is placed in the classroom. The children will have to act differently at times, and should be aware of the cochlear implant equipment; what it looks like and how it works in order to know how to interact and learn with their new classmate. What makes my project different is that there aren't really any programs out there to prepare children for having a classmate with a cochlear implant. This is why I believe it is important to make some kind of computer program or book that can be shown to the kids. It is important for other children to be prepared so that the mainstream experience is as successful as possible for everyone. I believe all of these things are important for making the mainstream experience enjoyable and successful for a child with a cochlear implant.
UCAP 395 Community-based Capstone: Environmental Issues & Community Engagement Spring 2010
This community-based capstone provides an opportunity to learn about and become involved in environmental issues in Cleveland. Limited to a small group of students, the capstone weaves together interdisciplinary knowledge, research, writing, and community-based experience. Each student chooses an environmental issue relevant to Northeast Ohio to investigate during the semester and serves at a local non-profit agency to gain hands-on experience with an organization addressing environmental issues. During the semester, students also meet together in a weekly seminar to share the issues they are working on and discuss readings that explore environmental topics and the Cleveland community. Students synthesize information, apply critical thinking skills, and write a significant paper based on the environmental issue they have identified. They utilize experience at their partner organizations to further their understanding and analysis of the issue. Visit the website for additional information and to view past community placements and projects. Contact: Elizabeth “Betsy” Banks, Center for Civic Engagement & Learning, email@example.com.
This community-based capstone provides an opportunity to learn about and become involved in environmental issues in Cleveland. Each student served at a local nonprofit to gain hands-on experience with an organization addressing today’s environmental issues and investigated an environmental issue relevant to Northeast Ohio in-depth over the course of the semester. Many thanks to the community partner organizations that hosted a capstone student: Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District, Earth Day Coalition, Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, InterReligious Task Force on Central America, and the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes.
Chloe Carter is a fourth-year student from Toledo, Ohio majoring in Biology and minoring in Anthropology. She is interested in pursuing a career in public health or healthcare management. This semester she is working with Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, a network of local businesses and organizations working together to create a sustainable economy in Northeast Ohio. Chloe is specifically helping them with their Zero Waste Northeast Ohio Network which helps businesses declare and reach their waste elimination goals. Their goal is to connect leaders interested in waste elimination goals and to provide resources to help them reduce and eliminate waste, grow the waste elimination industry in Northeast Ohio, and create jobs. Their ultimate vision is for Northeast Ohio to be a zero waste region by 2019. Chloe is writing her research paper on making NE Ohio a zero waste region, the steps that must be taken to achieve this waste elimination, and the benefits for the city.
Roxana Crivineanu is a third year pre-medical student from Parma, Ohio. She is majoring in Biology with a minor in French and Chemistry. She is currently working with the Cuyahoga County Soil and Water Conservation District on a water quality monitoring program for the Baldwin Creek Subwatershed. This program, once approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, will monitor macroinvertebrates, water chemistry, stream flow, and fish abundance in Cuyahoga’s local waterways. Once established, the program will be carried out by concerned Cuyahoga County residents and the results from the program will be used to improve the quality of Cuyahoga County’s local waterways. After her undergraduate career, Roxana plans on attending medical school and eventually working as a pediatrician in less fortunate areas, within and outside of the United States.
Katie Haas is a senior Chemistry and Psychology major graduating in May. After graduation she is joining the Peace Corps and will hopefully be working with secondary science education in sub-Saharan Africa. Her partner site is the Earth Day Coalition. She is working with their Student Environmental Congress. The program includes helping students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District prepare an environmentally focused presentation for a conference in April in addition to helping them create and participate in service learning opportunities for the students. Some of the schools she has visited are Garrett Morgan High School, Whitney Young High School and John Hay High School. Her research paper is about environmental education for children and how increasing this type of education would help the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Through her research she intends to be able to fully defend her position on the need of more environmental education in schools.
Chris Hernandez is a fourth-year student from Wharton, New Jersey and is majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. He will be entering the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in the summer of 2010 and hopes to eventually be doing research in ecology or designing public policy to promote biodiversity. Chris is doing his capstone at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and is focusing both his volunteer service and research paper on deer management in the Shaker Parklands of Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, and Shaker Heights. Deer control is a controversial issue in many suburban communities throughout Northeast Ohio, and his research will compare models in other communities to the situation at hand in the parks surrounding the Nature Center. The result of his efforts will be a report that will be of use for future land managers in determining how to approach deer management from multiple standpoints.
Cassandra Pallai is a senior with majors in Environmental Studies and Economics, as well as a minor in Geology. Though she is unsure of her plans for after graduation, she knows that she eventually will pursue a career that involves saving the environment and animals from human abuse. As part of her SAGES Capstone, she is partnering with the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. In addition to dabbling in event planning and website maintenance, she will be teaching environmental education in Cleveland-area schools. The other half of her Capstone involves researching and writing about conservation behavior and “green nudging.” Green nudging is aimed at instigating ecologically-conscious behavior in people who would not normally choose to change their consumption patterns. It is an important aspect of the parent field of conservation psychology, which investigates determinants of behavior and potential for behavioral change as both relate to environmental actions. She hopes that the paper will help her supervisor David Wright—who works mainly with audience outreach and community development—improve his ability to spread awareness and ecological responsibility among the Nature Center’s constituents.
S.K. Piper is a 4th year Biomedical Engineering major with minors in Spanish and Environmental Studies. She is looking forward to her position with Student Conservation Association in Virginia next semester, and hopes to join the Peace Corps upon graduation. Because of her social justice work on campus, including organizing the trip to the SOA protest and the Fair Trade and Secondhand Expo, Piper is ecstatic to be serving at the InterReligious Task Force on Central America. She is mainly working on raising awareness about the Body Shop’s use of palm oil and the displacements and violence as a result of the palm oil industry in Columbia. Piper was thrilled to be a presenter at IRTF’s annual Social Justice Teach-in, and is looking forward to making a poster and other educational material for the Earth Day celebration at the zoo. Piper’s research paper will be focused on the detrimental effects the U.S. is having on the Columbian environment, as a result of fumigations in the war against drugs, deforestation, and the monocropping of palm oil.
Steven Salloum is a fourth year Biology major from Strongsville, Ohio. He plans on attending medical school and specifically specializing in public health and maybe getting involved in public health policy. Steven is working with the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District in Middleburg Heights, Ohio on a cost-share Best Management Practices program. Specifically he is working on increasing awareness about storm water runoff and assisting in the program that would assist residents of the Abrams Creek Watershed in obtaining materials for a rain barrel or rain garden. The aim of the project is to hopefully reduce water runoff into the creek and improve the water quality of the creek. Steven has become interested in the topic of biomimicry and will be writing on the topic for his Capstone Research Project. He hopes that doing so will lead to a greater understanding of the concept of biomimicry and hopes it may be one option for a cleanup of previously exposed bodies of water.